Navigation is especially challenging when your destination isn’t just unknown—it’s unknowable.

One of the first things you learn in the Army is land navigation. In fact, I learned it before I ever set foot on the battlefield; it is a mandatory course at West Point. Land navigation sounds incredibly challenging (and it is), but its core principle is simple: soldiers must learn to follow a route through unfamiliar landscapes with tools no more sophisticated than a compass.

Learning about land navigation is critical for a number of reasons. In an environment where armies fight symmetrically on the battlefield, knowing your position (and seeking to ascertain your opponent’s) allows each side to create complicated and precise plans for striking ...

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